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Blocking Sunlight to Reduce Global Warming November 12, 2006

Posted by ionicflux in Science.
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The journal Acta Astronautica has published what is probably the most outlandish suggestion yet to stop global warming on Earth – a planet-girdling ring of small particles or micro-spacecraft with reflective umbrellas.

The price tag? Oh, about $6 trillion to $200 trillion for the particle solution. Much less for spacecraft.

 global-warming.jpg

global-warming.jpgScattering sunlight does work; when Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991, the global climate cooled by about one degree. The ring could be positioned around the equator, cooling the tropics.

Of course, no idea is too outlandish for the imagination of science fiction writers like Stanislaw Lem. An artificial ring of ice was described in Stanislaw Lem’s 1987 novel “Fiasco”. In Lem’s novel the ring was launched into space by the mysterious inhabitants of the planet Quinta for the purpose of lowering the level of the oceans to make more room on land. The ring mass is equal to about 1% of the planet’s oceans. The endeavor fails probably due to political reasons before the ice can be accelerated to escape velocity. The ice remains in orbit casting a huge shadow while huge chunks of ice, slowed by the atmosphere return to the surface as a never ending torrent. Lem’s protagonists speculate that the ring was launched by shooting lightning into the atmosphere creating a sort of rail gun made of air within which the ice was shot into orbit.

The ring, a flat disk with a hole that had a diameter of fifteen thousand kilometers, inside which spun the girdled planet, was made up of hunks of ice in the middle belts, but of polarized crystals of ice on the outer edges-and that, too, must have been by design. In a word, the ring was controlled in motion and shape from the very beginning; it was guided into the plane of the equator, that being stationary. But on the inside, above the equator, it became chaotic and formless…

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